Some leap fully clothed into the icy waves, others fling their furniture out of the window: These are just some of the strange ways people around the world welcome the New Year
Diving under ice
Bathing in an ice hole is too easy for some people living near Lake Baikal in Siberia. On New Year’s night, they dive beneath the ice to the bottom of the sea and plant the New Year’s tree, the yolka. Since this particular ritual is not entirely without risk, the task of sinking the symbol of a new beginning is usually performed by professional divers.
Eating round food
Bananas are never on the menu in the Philippines on New Year’s Eve. Why not? Because tradition allows only round fruits to be eaten – as a promise of prosperity in the shape of many coins. To make sure the flow of wealth continues throughout the coming year, people also wear polka dots at New Year’s celebrations.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay street festival is one of the world’s biggest New Year’s parties. The following day, locals banish their hangover at the Loony Dook, the annual New Year’s dip in the Firth of Forth from its south bank in Edinburgh. Most of the dookers plunge into the freezing water in costume: Cowboy, ducks and even Santa costumes have been spotted.
Throwing out furniture
Why do the residents of Hillbrow district in Johannesburg heave furniture out of the window on New Year’s Eve? Because they need room to dance? That might be one reason, but it’s mostly about getting rid of old stuff and making a fresh start in the new year – even if that means having no bed for a long lie-in next morning.
In Spain, people are granted 12 wishes on New Year’s Eve – but only if they can swallow as many grapes in the final 12 seconds of the year. Tradition dictates that a grape must be downed at each of the 12 chimes of midnight that peal out over church squares around the country. Almost everywhere, there’s bubbly to help wash them down.
In Japan, people spend the last few hours before midnight sweeping the dirt from the old year out of their homes. The whole family helps to clean the house, then they eat long noodles for a long life, and at midnight, temple gongs chime 108 times to welcome the new year. On New Year’s Day, the whole family goes to a shrine to pray.
That’s just one part of the traditional New Year’s Eve ritual in Denmark. The celebrations begin with everyone tucking into marzipan cake, kransekage. Next comes the dish smashing, which you do on your friends’ doorsteps (it’s supposed to bring them luck). Then, at the stroke of midnight, everyone jumps off their chair and into the new year.
Bathing in blossoms
Brazilians start the new Year dressed in white, the color of peace, and with a bouquet of flowers. At midnight, when everyone goes down to the beach for some communal wave jumping, they throw their flowers into the water as a tribute to the sea goddess.
Mexicans love traveling to interesting places! That’s why they put out empty suitcases on the doorstep on New Year’s Eve. This is supposed to ensure lots of trips in the coming year. Some even carry their case around the block. Who knows? Maybe the next adventure is waiting just around the corner.
Dropping a ball
In the last minute of the old year, New York gazes up at a sparkling sphere on the roof of the One Times Square tower. Since the very first Ball Drop in 1907, the glittering crystal ball has slid down its pole, landing at midnight to mark the new year. The idea behind it: Time balls were once used in harbors to tell ships the time.